List 4

After they move from the Dominican Republic to New York City, the four García sisters are caught between the expectations of their traditional parents and their own desire to assimilate to American culture.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. trespass
    commit a sin; violate a law of God or a moral law
    The sign had surprised Carla since "forgive us our trespasses" was the only other context in which she had heard the word.
  2. parish
    a local church community
    Mami walked her to the bus stop for her first month at her new school over in the next parish.
  3. infinitesimal
    immeasurably small
    First, she walked down the block by heart, noting the infinitesimal differences between the look-alike houses: different color drapes, an azalea bush on the left side of the door instead of on the right, a mailbox or door with a doodad of some kind.
  4. thoroughfare
    a public road from one place to another
    Finally, a sharp right down the service road into the main thoroughfare, where by heart she boarded the bus.
  5. naysayer
    someone with an aggressively negative attitude
    She could come home with stories of what had happened that day and not have a chorus of three naysayers to correct her.
  6. bland
    lacking stimulating characteristics; uninteresting
    They looked bland and unknowable, the way all Americans did.
  7. cleave
    stick or hold together and resist separation
    Their faces betrayed no sign of human warmth. Their eyes were too clear for cleaving, intimate looks.
  8. indistinguishable
    exactly alike; incapable of being perceived as different
    They were like cars to her, identifiable by the color of their clothes and a general age group—a little kid younger than herself, a kid her same age, a teenager in high school, and then the vast indistinguishable group of American grownups.
  9. invariably
    without change, in every case
    But if a grownup American of indeterminable age asked her for directions, invariably speaking too quickly, she merely shrugged and smiled an inane smile. "I don't speak very much English," she would say in a small voice by way of apology.
  10. enormity
    the quality of extreme wickedness
    Her mother called the police after piecing together the breathless, frantic story Carla told. The enormity of what she had seen was now topped by the further enormity of involving the police.
  11. ingratiating
    capable of winning favor
    If officers stood on the sidewalk as he walked by, he bowed ingratiatingly at them.
  12. wily
    marked by skill in deception
    The black tips of their shoes poked out from under their cuffs like the snouts of wily animals.
  13. warily
    in a manner marked by keen caution and watchful prudence
    I looked out the window warily. All my life I had heard about the white crystals that fell out of American skies in the winter.
  14. enthralled
    filled with wonder and delight
    They had all been enthralled by the folk dancers from Madrid at the Dominican World's Fair last year.
  15. hitch
    any obstruction that impedes or is burdensome
    Papi had not been able to get an American doctor's license—some hitch about his foreign education—and the money was running out.
  16. vanity
    low table with a mirror where one sits while dressing
    Sandi leaned her elbows on the vanity and watched her mother comb her dark hair in the mirror.
  17. foyer
    a large entrance or reception room or area
    A carpet on the sidewalk led into the reception foyer, from which they could see into a large room of tables dressed up with white tablecloths and napkins folded to look like bishops' hats.
  18. cummerbund
    a broad pleated sash worn at the waist with a tuxedo
    They wore cummerbunds and white shirts with ruffles on the chest—beautiful men like the one Sandi would someday marry.
  19. lilting
    characterized by a buoyant rhythm
    Best of all were the rich, familiar smells of garlic and onion and the lilting cadence of Spanish spoken by the dark-eyed waiters, who reminded Sandi of her uncles.
  20. strait
    a bad or difficult situation or state of affairs
    Sandi's father looked down at his plate, grateful, but also embarrassed to be in such straits and to be so beholden.
  21. beholden
    under a moral obligation to someone
    Sandi's father looked down at his plate, grateful, but also embarrassed to be in such straits and to be so beholden.
  22. paella
    saffron-flavored dish of rice with shellfish and chicken
    "Oh, but the seafood here is so good," the doctor pleaded, looking at her from above his glasses, which had slipped down on his nose like a schoolteacher's. "How about some paella, girls, or camarones a la vinagreta?"
  23. cadence
    a recurrent rhythmical series
    Their orders in and fresh drinks on the table, the grownups fell into the steady drone of adult conversation. Now and again the changed cadence of a story coming through made Sandi lean forward and listen.
  24. droll
    comical in an odd or whimsical manner
    Mrs. Fanning rolled her hips in a droll way like someone trying to keep up a Hula-Hoop.
  25. anteroom
    a large entrance or reception area
    Her father was waiting in the anteroom, pacing nervously, his hands worrying the change in his pocket.
  26. arch
    naughtily or annoyingly playful
    "Yes, here we are!" her father said in a too cheerful voice. "And we must better get back to the table before they send the marines!" He smiled archly, as if he had just thought up this quip he had been making for weeks.
  27. cortege
    the group following and attending to some important person
    Blessedly, their platters of food appeared, borne by a cortege of waiters, directed by the busybody maître d'.
  28. pensive
    deeply or seriously thoughtful
    The tension dispelled as the two couples took small, pensive bites of their different servings.
  29. flounce
    walk in an emphatic or exaggerated way
    Six señoritas in long, fitted dresses with flaring skirts and castanets in their hands flounced onto the stage.
  30. sultry
    attractive and suggesting hidden passion
    Six and six, damas and caballeros, they went through a complicated series of steps, the women's maracas clacking a teasing beat, the men echoing their partners' moves with sultry struts, and foot stomps.
  31. chaste
    morally pure
    These were not the dainty and chaste twirls and curtseys of the ballerinas at Lincoln Center.
  32. disquieting
    causing mental discomfort
    This wild and beautiful dance came from people like her, Spanish people, who danced the strange, disquieting joy that sometimes made Sandi squeeze Fifi's hand hard until she cried or bullfight Yoyo with a towel until both girls fell in a giggling, exhausted heap on the floor that made La Bruja beat her ceiling with a broom handle.
  33. castanets
    pair of hollow pieces of wood or bone made to click together
    The women began a dance in which the roses were held in their mouths, and their castanets clacked a merciless thank you to the men.
  34. largesse
    liberality in bestowing gifts
    The Garcías could not afford extras, and they did not want to put their hosts in the embarrassing position of having to spend money out of largesse.
  35. vehemence
    intensity or forcefulness of expression
    Sandi turned to the woman whose blurry, alcoholic eyes and ironic smile intimated the things Sandi was just beginning to learn, things that the dancers knew all about, which was why they danced with such vehemence, such passion.
Created on February 18, 2019 (updated February 20, 2019)

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